Bronx Times Reporter: Klein, Walcott annouce plans to fight asthma




by Patrick Rocchio
Monday, August 1, 2011

Air monitoring stations have been installed at the request of Community Board 10 and Senator Jeff Klein next to the approaches to the Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges to collect samples of pollutants coming from the surrounding highways that’s leading to asthma in the area’s children. Samples were collected from Saturday, July 16 to Monday, July 18.

The new testing is part of a multi-pronged plan to strike at the root causes of asthma and to better treat the condition affecting 17 percent of NYC’sschoolchildren that were announced by Senator Jeff Klein and New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott at the Locust Point Civic Association on Monday, July 18.

Parents, community leaders, educators, and healthcare professionals joined Klein and Walcott in announcing the new initiatives.

“The affliction has not only taken our children’s health hostage, it is holding their education for ransom,” Klein said. “What we have developed is a comprehensive strategy to detect local environmental triggers that cause asthma, educate parents on how to treat asthma at home, and help keep our kids in the classroom and out of the hospital.”

Klein worked with CB 10 and the state Department of Environmental Protection to make the testing stations a reality. He also sponsored a free asthma screening in LPCA after the press conference where health professionals from Jacobi Medical Center, North Central Bronx Hospital, and St. Barnabas Hospital examined 40 children.

Asthma is a leading cause of absenteeism among children in the city’s school system, Walcott said.

“When a student is sick, they either miss class or struggle to learn,” Walcott said. “We need to do everything we can to make sure students attend school so that by their senior year they will be prepared for college and career.”

Walcott put the NYC Asthma Friendly Schools campaign forth at the press conference. It includes the creation of a school asthma ambassador corps to train school employees to reach out to families in schools with high asthma rates, new 311 student asthma assistance, expansion of the American Lung Association’s Open Air Pathways Program for schools, parent summits at schools with high asthma rates, and providing training to physical education teachers and family shelter workers on the management and prevention of asthma in children.

In CB 10, whose air quality has never been surveyed before, district manager Kenneth Kearns hopes to collect empirical evidence that can be used in setting transportation policy.

“Thousands of cars, trucks and buses are jammed into a limited space, spewing noxious fumes throughout our communities,” Kearns said. “This results in a rise in the incidence of upper respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and subsequent hospital admissions.”